In the U.S., more than two-thirds of the class of 2011 was not proficient in math. In Arizona, that number jumped to three out of four students.
What’s more, two out of every five recently hired engineers in our state did not earn a degree at an Arizona college or university. Nearly half of the scientists working here moved in from another state. We produce fewer graduates in science, math and engineering than the national average.
We need to do more to prepare Arizona’s students for their future and for the jobs of the future. The Arizona College and Career Ready Standards (ACCRS) provides a baseline set of standards that articulate what pupils should know and be able to do. They provide a comparison to the Common Core state standards which are adopted in states across the nation. These standards allow educators, parents, business and community, and students to understand expectations in learning and set outcome targets to engage learners to meet these standards.
ACCRS are critical to advancing learning for Arizona students. They’ll help Arizona youth achieve success in life, and will also provide a competitive advantage for our state through relevant learning experiences that include problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration. New ways of teaching will also allow educators to engage students through interdisciplinary approaches that mimic life experiences they will face once they graduate.
These higher standards are for every student in Arizona, who needs support and deserves a clear definition about what is needed as a foundation of learning. The standards provide just that.
ACCRS articulates expectations at grade-appropriate intervals to ensure that students have the knowledge they need before advancing to more rigorous study. By having consistency in the standards, we provide our students with a comparative level of knowledge and skills for success from one developmental level to another.
The standards do not dictate how a teacher should teach or even what a teacher should teach. But they do set the bar for the final outcome of learning and express the goal of learning.
We have a collective responsibility to positively impact learning for all students in Arizona. There is positive momentum. Let us not lose the years of teacher training and meaningful local curriculum development that can assist in meeting the standards, teaching and learning engagement at higher levels of expectation.
We can’t be afraid to help our students learn in more relevant ways. ACCRS is focused on college and career readiness. The goal is to provide students with more analysis and deeper understanding of the content. Let us rally together for the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards and embrace what is right for our Arizona students to set them up for success.
• Dr. Sharon A. Kortman is senior vice president of learning at the Arizona Science Center.